"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Your Child's Test Answers...Invasion of Your Privacy?

Do you know the extent and usage of information being gathered on your family and your child when your child answers certain tests? It's not just information learned from a textbook, it's also about your student's and your family life. From the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):

Specifically, under the No Child Left Behind Act, NAEP is required to collect information on and report achievement results disaggregated by the following variables, when possible: gender, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), disability status, and English language learner (ELL) status.

Sound benevolent? Maybe, maybe not. Read on:

One new approach NCES is currently investigating is the creation of a new and improved measure of socioeconomic status (SES). NCES commissioned a literature review of how SES has been defined and operationalized in other education studies and other fields such as health and marketing. This led to the idea of adopting a two-pronged approach to measuring SES. This approach involves (1) creating an enhanced student background questionnaire with items that probe resources in the home, parents’ education level, and parents’ employment status, among other variables; and (2) using geocoding software to link students’ home addresses to aggregate SES data available from the United States Bureau of the Census. Development of the new SES measure commenced in 2005, with the goal of piloting it in 2009 and possibly implementing it in 2011.

We know the Longitudinal Data System is to be linked to the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. The NAEP is already connected to the Census Bureau, so we'll see if the Census Bureau will be a repository for LDS data as well. Does that make you uneasy your child's address is geocoded to gather more information? Is anyone concerned about privacy issues?

We'll be highlighting what is in the data sets in different longitudinal data systems and tests the next few days. We know the government is asking personal questions in the NAEP. Here are two questions an 8th grader was asked on the test this week in Missouri:

11. How far in school did your mother go?
She did not finish high school.
She graduated from high school.
She had some education after high
She graduated from college.
I don’t know.
12. How far in school did your father go?
He did not finish high school.
He graduated from high school.
He had some education after high
He graduated from college.
I don’t know.

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